Onserve Provides Cyber Security Solutions Ensuring Ontario Government Offices Do Not Fall Victim To Ransomware Attacks
The town of Midland in central Ontario was recently the victim of an increasingly common cybercrime. Known as a ransomware scam, this occurs when someone opens an email attachment, usually from someone who seems legitimate and trustworthy. However, hackers who use ransomware scams can spoof email addresses to make themselves look like a person or business the receiver has communicated with before.
When the attachment is opened, it releases the ransomware onto the computer, allowing the hackers to gain control of it. The hackers then essentially hold the computer hostage until a ransom is paid for them to release it. This is what happened in Midland, and it affected all of the city government’s computers. In fact, government employees in Midland have not had full access to their computers since September 1, which included a 48-hour period in which no government computer could be used.
Should Midland Pay The Ransomware? If They Worked With Onserve…This Wouldn’t Be A Worry
Midland is currently in negotiations with the hackers to release control of the computers back to the city. The hackers are demanding a hefty sum of Bitcoins as ransom to relinquish their control. Midland plans to pay the ransom to get control of their city computers returned; the negotiations are for just how much Bitcoin they are going to pay the hackers.
A scam like this, where a ransom of cryptocurrency is demanded to give control over hacked computers back to their owners is called a crypto lock scam, and it is becoming an all-too-common one. U.S. cybersecurity firm RiskIQ recently reported that one business or government entity somewhere in the world becomes the victim of a ransomware hack every 40 seconds. Fixing it costs the average business or government more than $15,000 in most cases.
These ransomware hacks are so common because they are so easy to do. There are instructions for launching one, and even do-it-yourself kits for it available for sale on the dark web. Even people with virtually no technical knowledge of computers can easily launch a ransomware scam.
In Midland, the ability of the town to accept payments from residents was the most severely impacted part of their computers when the hackers gained control. Officials had to put a sign on the Town Hall letting residents know they could not accept online payments or in-person payments made via debit or credit card. The good news is that no one’s personal information seems to have been improperly accessed. That is because the hackers behind this are only interested in getting their Bitcoin, not by stealing personal data.
It is currently unknown who is behind the hack, or how much Midland is going to pay the hackers in Bitcoin. Whatever amount it ends up being, the cost will be covered by the town’s insurance company.
Midland, ON Is Not The First…And They Won’t Be The Last
Midland is not the first Ontario town to deal with this kind of hack, either. Wasaga Beach, Ontario had a similar incident this spring. All the government data of the town that was kept on their computers was inaccessible for several weeks, during which time the town negotiated the “release price” with the hackers. Eventually, town officials were able to talk the hackers down from asking a $144,000 ransom to accepting one of $35,000 in cryptocurrency. Between the ransom payment at the damages caused by the computers being down for so long, town officials estimate the total cost of the incident to be around $250,000.
Ironically, Midland knew of what happened in Wasaga Beach and was making moves to protect themselves from a similar incident when they were hacked. Town officials were securing an insurance policy against ransomware incidents, as well as upgrading its firewall when the incident occurred.
As negotiations with the hackers have continued, more areas of operation of the town’s computers have been released. Town officials hope to have the computers back in their control and working normally again this week. Once this is done, they will take steps to make it harder for such an incident to happen again.
There are a number of measures businesses and government entities can take to protect themselves against ransomware hacking. However, no computer system in the world is currently fully secure from them, as the technology to completely prevent them is not there yet. Midland expects another ransomware incident at some point, even with their new cybersecurity upgrades.
Eventually, the technology will get where it needs to go to make ransomware incidents a thing of the past. Until then, keeping your computers as protected as current technology allows is your best defense against them. If your computers are not properly secured, you could be the next victim of a ransomware hack. The time to get tough against them is now.
Municipal governments are being targeted by ransomware hackers for crypto lock scams. It is a fact of life in the municipal world. Ransomware protection for Ontario government offices is required. It doesn’t matter if your IT guy tells you your computers are protected. The fact is, they are probably not. You need a second opinion because in-house IT guys are notoriously wrong when it comes to being protected against this kind of hack.
Need A Reliable Cybersecurity Service For Your Ontario Municipal Government Office?
The good news is you can get that second opinion with a recognized expert. However, you must use cybersecurity services Ontario municipal government entities trust. OnServe is here to assist you by giving you their expert opinion for free. All you have to do is reply and ask for OnServe to help you. Do it today.